Today’s ‘Five Minutes With’ series features Awards for Excellence finalist Jed Walentas, CEO and President of Two Trees Management, which has been nominated for an Award in the housing development category for their work on the market-rate residential property 300 Ashland in Brooklyn.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?
“Unsurprisingly, my father David Walentas is my biggest influence.”
What qualities do you think are essential to be an effective leader?
“Effective leaders should have the ability to attract a talented team and keep them focused and motivated. In addition, a good leader should have a strong vision that pushes your team beyond what they believe they’re capable of, while staying focused on your organization’s strengths and avoiding distractions. And in real estate especially, you need a borderline unhealthy dose of optimism.”
“300 Ashland took about 10 years to develop and what seems obvious now, in terms of its layout, design and construction, was actually the product of an enormous amount of work and collaboration with City planners. The project is like a Rubik’s cube. There are four major uses – residential, a giant cultural facility, Apple store and Whole Foods Market and an outdoor public plaza, working seamlessly on a narrow triangular site while being surrounded by three subway lines. Each use was planned in a way that made them highly desirable. We conceived of the Apple store and Whole Foods Market spaces with those specific tenants in mind, long before we ever had a conversation with them, and built them to spec. We gave it the best real estate on the site, the widest part of the triangle fronting Lafayette Street, to the public uses: the plaza and the cultural lobby. We tucked the residential lobby on the quiet side street, and the apartments start about ten stories above ground level, maximizing the views and privacy.”